Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Garbage bin correctness in Britain
Householders have been threatened with £1,000 fines if they leave their wheelie bins out for too long. The penalty would be the largest ever imposed on those who fail to remove their empty bins from the pavement after they have been emptied.
Letters warning of the £1,000 fine have been sent out in Bedford, where council chiefs say bins on the pavement are a hazard to blind people. (!)
The local authority has issued its threat just a month after the Government condemned such draconian punishments as ‘clearly disproportionate’. Ministers have promised a new law to strip councils of the right to levy large fines. The Bedford fines are more than 12 times greater than the on-the-spot penalties routinely handed out to shoplifters.
The letters distributed among the 65,000 homes in the borough say that anyone who fails to take their bin back in within 24 hours of their rubbish collection will be liable for the fine. The threat provoked a furious response in the town.
Matthew Hipkin, 37, said: ‘It’s an absolute waste of council money and time to have people walking the streets checking if someone has put their bin away. ‘I understand the principle of keeping the streets clean but the council has put across its point in the wrong way. It is being way too heavy-handed.’
A father of two who did not want to be named added: ‘I’ve had these threatening letters when I left my bin out on the pavement because the binmen hadn’t turned up.
‘Other times I’ve had to walk ten doors away to pick up my bin because they’ve been left scattered in the road after collection. It’s a ridiculous waste of our council tax. Why don’t they just make sure the bins are collected on time?’
Bedford is run by elected Liberal Democrat Mayor Dave Hodgson, and the three major parties each have 12 elected councillors.
A spokesman for the authority said: ‘We’ve been working with Sight Concern Bedford and the Royal National Institute of Blind People to encourage households to put their wheelie bins away, to help make pavements safer for blind and partially sighted people.
‘Where we receive reports of households repeatedly leaving out bins which can cause problems to such people, the council will write to the households concerned and advise that this is an offence for which they may ultimately be fined.’
Some councils have threatened £1,000 fines as their ultimate sanction for people who fail to follow recycling rules and put the wrong material in the wrong bins. A £1,000 fine is the largest possible under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act.
In the Government’s Waste Review last month – which failed to bring back weekly bin collections – ministers said punishments for erring householders should not be higher than fines for criminals. The review said of £1,000 fines: ‘It cannot be right for this kind of threat to be hanging over householders.’
Over the last two weeks a series of seemingly unrelated events demonstrate one clear idea. Radical activists, small in number and not even representative of the homosexual community at large, are intolerant bigots, who seek to do harm not just to people with who they disagree, but to those that would be helped by the groups they disagree with.
Activists, and to some degree their mouthpieces in the media have conducted witch-hunts designed to hurt not just the ones who have different ideological viewpoints, but wish to disrupt the charity that people who disagree with them advocate for.
It is profoundly, viciously hurtful to the innocent people in need of help, and it is an attack on free speech, association, and the practice of religious freedoms.
In Los Angeles, California the founder of TOMS shoes was so harassed by the activists, they all but forced Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder, into a near apology for appearing at an event in which Focus On The Family recorded an interview with the shoemaker. The purpose of which was to inspire listeners to help put needed shoes on the feet of African AIDS orphans. Secondarily Focus hoped it might also inspire listeners to begin their own companies ordered around the economy of compassion, and budgeting for those in need.
Activists launched online petitions to attempt to pressure customers from shopping with TOMS shoes because of some imagined "alignment" with a supposed "hate group." Though the only institution to ever classify Focus On The Family as a hate group is a group that could easily qualify for the designation themselves - The Southern Poverty Law Center - at least by the standards they use to define "hate."
The irony of the matter is that Jim Daly, Focus On The Family's president, has purposefully chosen to engage those who disagree with some of Focus' positions on public policy, and has even attempted to find common ground on things like reducing abortions, increasing adoption, and in the event of the TOMS shoe event -- give foot coverings to African AIDS orphans who might otherwise step on something that would cut their feet, develop infection, and damage their health, if not take their life.
Throughout the course of this week, acting on the work of radical extreme activists, ABC News' Brian Ross, brought investigative journalism to an all time new low. Pretending to do some sort of "investigation" into the counseling clinic that is operated by the spouse of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, Ross ran consecutive hit pieces on the clinic and made enormous intellectual leaps of gymnastic strides to tie the negative outcome to Bachmann.
Through the use of hidden cameras, men who behave in homosexual fashion, videotaped sessions with Christian counselors at a clinic. On tape the counselors attempted to give them advice on how to re-channel their sexual behaviors. The undercover footage was edited and reported on in such a way to attempt to make it appear as though the counselors were brainwashing clients. The tiny little problem here however was that these men who engage in homosexual behavior, went to the clinic asking the clinic to help them find ways not to engage in the behavior any more.
The activists released selective b-roll of the videos, Brian Ross "investigated" the matter, and Diane Sawyer made assertions just short of saying that Michele Bachmann wanted homosexual men to kill themselves.
Shoddy journalism, pathetic advocacy, brought about by the worst "sting" operation ever conceived.
Lastly, mostly due to the TOMS shoes controversy, a number of other angry and radical activists, have attempted to blacklist other retailers like Delta Airlines, PetSmart, Microsoft, and Apple from participation in a give-back program to ministries like Focus On The Family (which bolsters healthy families), Promise Keepers (which like President Obama calls for men to exert a stronger presence in the life of their children), Angel Food Ministries (which feeds the hungry) and others.
The activists wished to injure the retailers because they presently participate in giving back to legitimate 501c3 organizations when constituents of those organizations shop online and purchase using a content application or shopping mall that the ministry may provide. The technology is provided by a group, formerly known as Christian Values Network, and is now known as the Charity Give Back Group.
By denying the give-back opportunities that the retailers offer, the activists are hurting the formation of healthy families, fighting for increased fatherlessness in the home, and literally hoping the poorest of the poor in America will go hungry.
Why? Because people who have a disagreement with their idealogical positions dare to express it?
The radical sexual activists in America today are the least tolerant people on the planet. Because while homosexuals are welcome in every church in America to come and sit, sing, pray, and learn. Most Christians--evangelical and catholic--are being told, "You're not even allowed to do good... Even for those in need."
These activists are the most intolerant people in America, and the outcomes they desire lack the virtue to improve the world.
It would be helpful if retailers of all stripes, let these debates happen in the idealogical spaces of our society, and not take the fight to the market square where these tiny numbers of radicals are attempting to squelch the commerce and relationships of every Catholic and Evangelical Christian in America.
For the retailers, that's a lopsided and losing proposition. But by at least remaining neutral at they would not be perpetrating the ill will that the radical activists seek to inflict. And grateful families, fathers, and formerly hungry kids, I'm sure, would express their thanks!
Making Sense over Israel
President Obama wants Israel to revert to the pre-1967 borders. That would mean handing some of Christianity's most sacred sites over to the Palestinian government, which for all intents is controlled by one of the world's most radical terrorist organizations, Hamas.
Do you want them to control some of the most sacred sites of our Christian history? I didn't think so.
In a speech May 19, the president endorsed the Palestinians' demand that their future state be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, a move that has infuriated our ally Israel and is certain to endanger Christians' free access to holy sites.
In a meeting this week, the so-called "Quartet" -- diplomats from the United States, European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- apparently reached no agreement on a common set of principles for new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But Quartet representative Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, told Bloomberg Television the group wants to "take [Obama's] speech and turn it into a framework of guidance for these negotiations."
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is moving forward with its proposal for United Nations statehood recognition, which will likely come before the Security Council later this month and the General Assembly in September.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas clearly sees the U.N. proposal as a big bargaining chip, stating that he will have "no choice but the United Nations" unless talks are restarted. The Arab League has now voted to support the Palestinians at the United Nations.
We can only assume that Abbas also wants a framework based on Obama's speech, if negotiations are advantageous to his cause, but he is clearly determined to pursue his goal by any available method.
Although the United States is seen as promoting the Quartet initiative as an alternative to immediate Palestinian membership in the United Nations, it is hard to believe that the Obama administration will oppose membership if and when a border agreement is reached.
After Obama's May 19 remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the president's proposal and said a return to the pre-1967 borders would be disastrous for his country.
Netanyahu called the pre-1967 lines "indefensible," saying such a withdrawal would jeopardize Israel's security and "leave major population centers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) beyond those lines."
And although Obama was careful to mention the possibility of "land swaps" in his proposal -- presumably to allay the fears of those who are rightly concerned that the pre-1967 borders are his goal -- the president seems more concerned with brokering a deal than with Israel's security.
Mention of East Jerusalem and its holy sites is noticeably absent from the Obama proposal. In a scenario with pre-1967 borders, Israel will lose East Jerusalem.
The president needs to reassure Israelis that the United States stands firmly behind their sovereignty over the border. There can be no wiggle room here. Either we are with the Israelis or against them.
The new sexual revolution: Today's women are rejecting promiscuity for monogamy and motherhood
By Bel Mooney
Her sexcapades were famous. Even in middle age, the novelist Erica Jong had no shame in describing the liaisons she took part in — which included a fling with the husband of her friend, the American domestic goddess (and now fallen businesswoman) Martha Stewart.
Jong’s best-selling book Fear Of Flying (published in the UK in 1974) portrayed women as voracious sexual beings, harbouring erotic appetites just as raunchy as those of men — and catapulted her into celebrity.
Yet now, this pioneer of the sexual revolution is doing the unthinkable — and has declared that ‘sex is passé’.
Writing in the New York Times, she muses on the fact that younger women — including her daughter — are not so obsessed with sex as her own generation (also mine) was, back in the years of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.
Jong says she is ‘fascinated to see, among young women, a nostalgia for Fifties era attitudes towards sex’. She argues that older women are ‘raunchier’, but younger ones are ‘obsessed with motherhood and monogamy’.
While some people have jumped to the conclusion that Erica Jong has finally seen the error of her wild ways and started to question the ‘anything goes’ attitude of her youth, sadly this is not the case.
Jong laments the fact that her daughter’s generation seems to have rebelled against this obsession with sex, and she is bewildered to observe that while her generation ‘idealised open marriage’ their daughters ‘are back to idealising monogamy’.
But is this true? Certainly, I’ve also noticed a tendency towards conservative attitudes in my 31-year-old daughter’s generation and even younger women. In the same way that they are proud to dress up in old-fashioned cap and gown to receive their degrees, they look for commitment in the shape of a wedding ring — or, at least, a shared mortgage.
And this move towards monogamy and motherhood is surely something we should celebrate, rather than denigrate.
In 1967, my friends and I despised those traditional values. We (or, at least, many of us) wanted to be different from our mothers’ generation and — yes — it wasn’t cool to believe in fidelity. ‘Seize the time’ was the motto.
But these days, as Jong writes: ‘If their mothers discovered free sex, then they want to discover monogamy . . . Just as the watchword of my generation was freedom, that of my daughter’s generation is control.’
Interestingly, an American survey carried out earlier this year found that younger women were indeed much more choosy about having sex on a first date than older women. Even though we live in a sexually-obsessed culture, it seems that many young women today are far more careful than we give them credit for.
Of course, the images we see of Saturday night antics in Britain’s town centres would seem to disprove this. But it’s important to remember that not all young women go out, get drunk and get laid.
Sensibly, Erica Jong points out that generalising about social trends is dangerous. Still, her theory is that ‘sex has lost its frisson’ because there’s so much explicitness in popular culture and on the internet.
If you have too many sweets, you feel sick. If everything is allowed, you don’t crave it any more.
Explicit sex can become boring in the end — hence the theory that people have to rachet up the degrees of porn they watch, to find it sexy — with disturbing effects on society as a whole. Brought up in this culture, it’s easy to see how this generation of 20s-to-early-30s females can feel embarrassed by their parents’ oh-so-cool sexual permissiveness.
The young women I know want to value and be valued and willingly embrace the idea of monogamy, fully aware that at times it can be challenging.
As for bringing up the next generation — I have heard my own daughter fulminate against young girls dressing ‘like tarts’, asserting that if she is ever ‘blessed with a child’ (as she always expresses it), she would want to instil old-fashioned values from the start.
Interestingly, Jong’s own daughter, the writer Molly Jong-Fast, has written frankly of her own hippie upbringing, addictions, recovery — and her resulting desire to be ‘normal’. What she means is monogamy and children. In other words, maturity.
Yet her mother’s latest views on sex reveal a disturbing lack of maturity. Not only does she wish that her generation had succeeded in spreading the gospel of promiscuity, she also pokes fun at maternity, too.
I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I used to hold many of her ideas. Back then, there was no thought for sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and Aids — ‘bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’. The sexual revolution supposedly guaranteed instant and anonymous sexual gratification, with no thought for the consequences, and no sense of personal responsibility.
Why, Jong asks, have the young become so strait-laced, so narrow?
She dismissively sums up their views: ‘Better to give up men and sleep with one’s children. Better to wear one’s baby in a man-distancing sling and breastfeed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don’t belong to him.
‘Our current orgy of multiple maternity does indeed leave little room for sexuality. With children in your bed, is there any space for sexual passion?’
So there we have it — she feels there’s something repellent about procreation. That isn’t what sex is for.
This famous cheerleader for the ‘me’ generation — the ones liberated by the Pill who also considered abortion to be a right — sneers at the values of younger women who have observed the damage done by ‘free sex’ and ‘open marriage’.
But we got it so wrong, Erica! It wasn’t just the free love, it was the diminishing of the role of motherhood.
Nowadays, many educated young women, brought up to focus on their careers, leave pregnancy until their late 30s, often storing up untold complications and heartache.
So it’s shocking to read an influential woman writer trivialising the important job of child-bearing — in a horrible phrase which insults the many women who find it hard to conceive — ‘our current orgy of multiple maternity’.
How tacky also to mock young women for ‘breastfeeding all hours’ in order to keep their partners at bay. Did Jong herself believe that her own breasts ‘belonged’ to her three husbands? If so, the sentiment is as revolting as the raunchy culture of lads’ magazines which regards women’s breasts lasciviously as mere sexual playthings.
Any self-respecting feminist from the Seventies, Eighties or Noughties might like to point out that a woman’s breasts are her own and their purpose is to give any child they have a healthy, nutritious start to life.
Once hailed as a revolutionary writer for women, Erica Jong tells us: ‘The backlash against sex has lasted longer than the sexual revolution itself.’ But what does that actually mean? She says we are rejecting ‘passion’ — as if people (of all ages) no longer fall in love and yearn to set up home together.
It’s all nonsense. Men and woman find meaning when they commit to each other
The truth is — there is no ‘backlash’ against sex. Certain people will always be led by physical passion, as well as the most basic lust. It is part of the human condition.
But the sexual revolution of which I once felt a part acted to legitimatise selfishness and exploitation. Oh yes, we trumpeted some fine ideas about freedom, about the impossibility of ‘belonging’ to another person, about marriage — which was legal thralldom to a man — being only a piece of paper, about only having one life ... and so on.
But the semi-political ideas about freedom that became part of the zeitgeist in the early Seventies influenced far more people than we realise, dignifying self-indulgent and bad behaviour as being somehow commendably liberal.
Of course, casual sex and infidelity have always played a central role in the relationships between men and women. But in earlier times there were clear boundaries. For the sake of the family (which meant the health of society), as well as social norms, men and women would think twice about skipping away from their responsibilities.
In a golden economic age, that attitude seemed (to the likes of Erica Jong and me) intolerably repressive. But young women of today are having to face much harsher options.
They see that confronting this difficult world with somebody you care for at your side, and raising children together, offers a far greater comfort (as well as challenge) than that experienced by all those ‘beautiful people’ casting off their zipless velvet loon pants and cheesecloth shirts for loveless couplings back in the grubby ol’ summer of love.
Erica Jong is an undeniably talented and creative writer, yet the ideas she still cherishes are ultimately demeaning to men and women. She still believes that ‘physical pleasure binds two people together’ — whereas surely what really holds people together is love, mutual respect and devotion to the family, even when sexual passion has diminished or gone.
Of course, sex is an essential — and sometimes wonderful — part of life. But what distinguishes humans from animals is the need for meaning.
Men and woman find meaning when they decide to commit to each other, work as a team to solve problems, raise children, find friendship within their love and tackle the sometimes wearisome challenges of middle age and growing old together.
Oh, I know it doesn’t always work. But if that’s what our daughters are seeking, then I know they are much wiser than my and Erica Jong’s generation.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.